Germany’s Struggle with Alcohol Addiction
While Germany avoided some aspects of the opiate crisis that swept across much of the western world, alcohol use remains a problem. Alcohol consumption statistics have dropped slightly in recent years, but they are still above many developed countries.
This revelation is surprising, too, because, in many ways, Germany is leading Europe in curbing drug addiction and treating drug addicts. So why the ongoing, excessive alcohol consumption among the German population? What are the reasons behind alcohol addiction in Germany, and what can be done to overcome this public health crisis?
According to a German report (written in German but discussed in an English article), the average German citizen drinks 34.7 gallons of alcoholic beverages each year. That quantity is roughly equal to an entire bathtub of beer, wine, spirits, etc. Furthermore, the same study found that about three million Germans had a legitimate alcohol addiction in 2018. Compare that to the just 116,294 Germans who had an opiate addiction, and it is clear that alcohol is a much bigger problem in Germany than opioids are.
The same report found that 74,000 Germans die from alcohol each year, which is quite concerning. That’s more deaths in Germany from alcohol than virtually all other preventable causes of death.
Another point of concern is that Germans are not cutting back on their alcohol consumption in a way that reflects an awareness of how risky alcohol consumption is for German residents. For example, some research suggests that Germans drank slightly less in 2017 than they did in 2016. And in some areas of Germany, consumption statistics went up, not down, indicating that the national reduction in consumption is barely noticeable.
Another report, written in English, laid out precise statistics on Germany’s alcohol problem. In addition to the 74,000 alcohol-related deaths mentioned earlier, it’s also important to note that:
- Approximately 21,700 young Germans between the ages of 10 and 20 are hospitalized for alcohol poisoning each year.
- About 231,300 alcohol-fueled crimes are committed in Germany each year, representing about 11% of all total crimes committed.
- Alcohol is also a culprit in much of the violence that occurs in Germany each year. About 40,000 of Germany’s annual violent crimes are the direct result of alcohol misuse. That’s almost one-third of all violent crime in Germany.
- About 13,000 of Germany's annual traffic crashes are alcohol-related.
- Alcohol misuse in Germany costs the nation about €40 billion every year.
According to the report, the key takeaways from Germany’s alcohol misuse-related statistics can be summed up as follows: “Epidemic levels of alcohol deaths, Pervasive alcohol harm to others than the alcohol consumers themselves, Alcohol problems starting extremely early in life, and Alcohol problems affecting every aspect of German society.”
"Epidemic levels of alcohol deaths, Pervasive alcohol harm to others than the alcohol consumers themselves, Alcohol problems starting extremely early in life, and Alcohol problems affecting every aspect of German society."
Germany has an alcohol addiction problem that needs to be addressed with addiction treatment for those afflicted.